No parent starts out intending for their baby to become dependent on a dummy. But when you find yourself with a toddler who simply won't be easily parted from a dummy, working out how to wean them off it can be a source of unimaginable stress.
So we've researched the options for you and have the definitive guide to persuading your tot to part with her dummy.
1. Wait until your child wean themselves off their dummy
I had pretty much decided to take this approach but a routine dental appointment highlighted that my daughter's teeth were already showing signs of being affected by her dummy which - at 2.5yrs old - she showed no signs of wanting to give up.
No big deal, the dentist assured me - the problems will only really start if she's still using a dummy by the time her big teeth arrive. So if you decide to put off ditching the dummy until your child seems 'ready' to give it up of her own accord that's ok - but it's probably worth getting your dentist to take a look at her teeth to make sure all is a-ok. I am reliably informed by parents who've opted for this approach that no kid still wants a dummy when they're starting high school…
2. Give it to the dummy fairy
Loads of parents swear by this cunning trick, which seems to involve coaxing your child into handing her dummy over to a distant relative of the tooth fairy, who takes it when you child is sleeping to a baby who hasn't got a dummy of her own, and leaves a present for your little one in its place. I'm told it works well but my kid is way too canny for this - when I floated the notion of gifting her dummy to the dummy fairy she coolly pointed out that we could just buy the other baby a brand new one and give *that* to the dummy fairy.
3. Plant a dummy tree
I can't see this idea doing anything except traumatising a child but a friend tells me it's commonplace to 'plant' a child's dummy in the garden when it's time to give it up. In its place your child will find a lollipop or some other delicious treat in the morning - but I can't help thinking my dummy-loving daughter would be outside in the dead of night digging up the garden to get her precious 'do-do' back!
4. Give it to Santa
This one's clever - you leave the dummy for Santa to collect and in its place is the stocking full of pressies - because at least at Christmas there are loads of toys and treats around to help distract your little one if she struggles to adjust to life without her dummy. I once heard someone describe a child going cold-turkey from dummy use as not far off a portrayal of Renton in Trainspotting - and that's got to be a little easier to contain at Christmas than on your average normal day at home.
5. Hang it on the dummy tree
You tie the dummy to a tree to be collected by the birds who need it for their nest. Again, what's to stop a determined toddler from climbing the tree to get it back, I'm not too sure, but I've got friends who say this worked really well. If the birdies can leave a little thank you gift in place of the dummy, so much the better.
6. Read books together about giving up a dummy
The Last Noo Noo by Jill Murphy is a cracker and Florrie the Dummy Fairy is worth a try if you plan on doing the whole fairy 'thing'. I especially like I Want My Dummy for a reluctant dummy-quitter, and the Bea Gives Up Her Dummy and Ben Gives Up His Dummy books are also lovely.
7. Cut the dummy
Snip the end off the dummy so that it loses its appeal. I couldn't bring myself to try this but friends swear by it and reckon it's preferable to taking the dummy away altogether - apparently when a little one doesn't feel deprived but simply doesn't want the dummy in the state it's offered, the tears and mayhem are considerably reduced.
8. 'Lose' the dummy
When my daughter's dummy dependence was at its peak I found I was afraid to leave the house without one - so I couldn't see this working in my house but 'losing' the dummy works well for some and is another option to consider if you don't like the idea of your child feeling the dummy has been forcibly removed from them.
9. Ditch the dummy gradually
Start by reducing dummy use. If your little one has it all day, begin weaning her off it by gradually restricting its use to certain times of day, reducing that until it's only allowed at bedtime or during naps. Once you've cracked that, removing the dummy once your child falls asleep should help get her off it altogether. At least that's the theory.
10. Go cold turkey
Depending on your child's age and their level of understanding, it might be appropriate to just explain that it's time to say bye bye to the binky. Be ready to offer lots of emotional support and extra cuddles if it takes a while for your child to adjust, and offer a transitional object in place of the dummy for extra comfort.